tv National Security Campaign 2012 CSPAN October 15, 2012 4:25am-6:00am EDT
>> alright, thank you, dov. now let's begin with some questions to both of the panelists. rich, why don't i start with you? to go back to the point about syria, the syrian conflict has killed more than 20,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands, and governor romney has called for arming the syrian rebels to help them in their efforts to topple the government. why not arm the rebels or take more forceful steps? >> yes, so i think it is important to note what governor romney actually said in his speech. it was a bit of a head fake after months of saying that we, the united states, should arm the syrian rebels. it was a clever word choice in this speech. what it actually said is, they should be armed, and then took a step back as to who should actually do it, how it would be done. he still does not like to answer the questions about what kinds of arms, who they would go to, and the risk that they
could fall into extremist groups, or, frankly, the risks that they could threaten our ally, israel. the united states has been incredibly engaged and active in syria with the rebel forces under the president's leadership. it is an incredibly difficult situation. we have provided logistical support, communications support, worked with our allies, worked with turkey, tried to support -- provided as much humanitarian aid as we can, but anybody who speaks to the u.s. ambassador on this question -- still the calculation is providing support from the united states into the rebels' hands at this time would have a very uncertain outcome. we are working very hard with the rebel forces, and clearly, as the president said, assad's days are over. they will eventually come to an end.
we need to be ready to provide as much support to the moderate forces as we can in the interim. i do want to, if i can, just say one thing about the comments about iran, which is also very related to this serious issue. he does set up the strawman about the sanctions on iran and the 20 countries that have gotten off the hook. i think it is interesting to note that this is where the facts really do matter. the iran sanctions act is the critical piece of legislation that the congress passed in the 1990's to punish iran and those who support its petroleum sector. zero companies were sanctioned by the bush administration under the iran sanctions act in eight years. 0. when the president came into office, he very aggressively moved on the sanctions using existing treasury department authorities. he then worked with the congress
almost immediately to sign a new comprehensive piece of legislation, of which multiple companies across the world, including chinese companies, including russian companies, have been sanctioned. the 20 exemptions that he likes to talk about were a wholly different piece of authority, which granted the president the authority to exempt countries that made substantial reductions in their oil imports from iran. south korea, in fact, cut off their imports. turkey reduced, india reduced, and in fact, china reduced. it was specifically targeted at the banking sector -- congress authorized the exemptions leaving 20 countries off the hook, and in fact, we have made crippling sanctions. when i hear the other side talk about, we are really going to do this on our own -- we have had an embargo against iran for 30 years. the fact is for crippling sanctions, you do need international cooperation.
the kind of saber rattling and do-it-alone approach, we have seen, and we have seen that it will not be very effective in constraining the mullahs in iran that we are so concerned about. >> can i ask you to respond to the iran point, and also on the syria point, what about the weapons falling into the wrong hands? should the u.s. itself be providing those weapons? >> see, i don't get it. maybe i'm dumb, but if we are working with these folks on the communication and logistics, we are working with them every day. we are engaged with them -- your words. why don't we know who the good guys are? i mean, are we communicating with the bad guys? are we providing logistics to the bad guys? then we are really nuts. so we must be working with the good guys. why can we not provide arms, or at least provide the money for them to buy arms, or at least work with other of our arab friends to get the arms to these people? i do not get it. it does not add up.
either you are engaged, or you are not engaged. if you are engaged, you sure as heck better know who you are engaged with. it does not work out terribly well when you get engaged with somebody you do not know. if you know who they are, why aren't you helping them out when they are crying out for it? oh, assad is going to fall. do you know how long we have been saying that for? how many more thousands will it take before assad falls? how many thousands of dead and injured and wounded, men and women and children, and we are saying, he is going to fall? yes, in the long run, we are all dead. it does not prove a thing. it just highlights the inconsistency of what the administration is saying. i cannot have said it better than the way it was just said. on iran, working with the congress, of course, they are working with the congress, because they have to. congress forced the sanctions on them. yes, there has been a reduction in oil imports.
but the whole idea is to have zero oil imports. that has not happened. the question is, why not? mr. romney has said, i want to zero out oil imports. the other point, we will do it on our own. he has never said we will do it on our own. on the contrary, what mr. romney has said is, we are going to work with our allies in a way that this administration has not. he does not plan to wake up the polish foreign minister in the middle of the night to tell him we have just changed our missile defense plan. he does not plan to go and whisper to the president of france that mr. netanyahu was a pain in the you-know-where. he doesn't plan to turn around to the russian president and say, just wait. once i have flexibility, i can do all kinds of things that i cannot do right now. he does not plan to stand aside when there is a major green revolution in iran, and the united states does nothing.
we are supposedly trying to get the mullahs to heel to what we are looking for, and the very same mullahs know that when there was a real threat to them, we sat on our hands. what does that tell you about our credibility? what does that tell you about our consistency? >> dov, you have written a book about afghanistan. you are the point person at dod on the afghan account between the george w. bush administration. governor romney mentioned the 2014 drawdown in his monday speech. what he did not talk about in that was the strategic partnership agreement that the administration has negotiated with the afghan government, which will keep american soldiers in afghanistan until 2024. do you have a sense about what the minimum soldiers should be going forward? >> let me clarify a couple of things. there are more than a few former administration folks who say i was the focal point on
the afghanistan. i was involved, but i share the credit with many others who probably had more influence than i did. the first point i would like to make about afghanistan, and the big difference between mr. romney and mr. obama, is that mr. obama set a deadline, period, full stop. i was in kabul in 2009 when mr. obama made that speech. i was talking to the people from the international force, the people who are out there getting shot at from other countries, not just our own. to a man and woman -- there are a lot of women there -- they all almost took no notice of the surge statement. what they noticed was the deadline. what our pakistani friends noticed was the deadline. what the taliban has noticed is the deadline. everybody is playing to that deadline, including president
karzai, quite frankly, who has no other choice. what mr. romney has said is, yes, that works, as long as the military thinks it works. if you trust the commanders on the ground, and they say, we cannot leave just yet, then you are going to change your plan. the taliban is terrified of that. the last thing they need is to know that the united states may not leave as quickly as they expect. look what happened in iraq. boy, we stuck to our deadline, and we did not work all that hard to make sure that there was a status of forces agreement with iraq. look at iraq today. with a man who is trying very hard to become a shia dictator, with civil war breaking out again, with al qaeda active not
only in iraq, but iraq's neighbors, how well have we done? have we brought peace and democracy to iraq? are the iraqi people safe? the answer, we know, is no. the difference is -- this goes to your question, i do not want to evade it -- mr. romney says, how many troops? how many troops will depend on the situation on the ground. what you do not want to have is an announcement ahead of time, we will have x number of troops, for a y number of years, and let the taliban plan against that. if we announce what we are going to do, it is like telegraphing in basketball. the best way to get the other team to steal the ball is if you telegraph your pass. >> just to follow up on that, the fact that the administration is negotiating an agreement into 2024 is something you are obviously happy about? >> well, it depends on the
nature of the agreement, number one, and it depends on whether the next president of afghanistan upholds it. the devil is always in the details. we thought we were going to have an arrangement where we would have some troops staying in iraq. it did not happen. >> that was because the iraqi parliament would not allow it. >> that is the whole point. you do not know how things play out until they actually do. i do not know how the afghan parliament will be. i do not know how a president in 2017 -- a president of afghanistan -- will behave, until something is finalized, it is just words. again, i come back to my fundamental point. we have had for years words, big words, little words, words. >> just on that, we have had a lot of tough talk from the other campaign. it does remind us of what we lived through for eight years, with a lot of tough talk, with
200,000 troops in the middle east hunkered down, unable to pivot to asia or anywhere else, frankly, while the iranian regime was getting stronger spinning centrifuges, because we could do nothing else. it seems to me that that is exactly the strategy that the governor has us headed towards again. war in syria, war in iran, someone untold thousands of numbers of troops in iraq, and an unlimited presence until who-knows-when. what about that would actually make us safer and stronger in this new threat environment is very curious. i think it does have something to do with the vision that the governor has. if your vision of what is happening in the world is driven by russia as a geopolitical threat, and you want to confront china, and you want to confront these states, and you want to be hunkered down in the middle east while these
transnational threats and some state actors are hitting us very hard, then that is a totally different approach. i agree. if you want to be where the president has been, which is very aggressive against al qaeda, supporting democratic and moderate forces, doing the transitions in afghanistan and iraq, frankly to lighten our burden in the middle east so we can move and confront other threats in the world. it is a faster, more agile, smarter, tougher, and a stronger approach. one only has to look at the previous administration. if that is what people want in their security posture going forward, they can have it again, because it sounds like exactly what he is suggesting. >> just to follow up briefly. is al qaeda largely defeated in your view? >> no, of course not, but i will -- you can look at the testimony of john brennan, other administration officials, that the core of al qaeda has been decimated, that the senior leadership ranks have been
decimated. what we have to guard against is the affiliate groups and the extremist groups, but even the core affiliates -- the senior leadership ranks of the core affiliates have been taken out, as well. whether the governor would admit it or not, there is a battle taking place across the middle east. it is a battle of ideas. we cannot kill and capture our way out of this battle. we have to support the moderate forces. we have to help our allies defeat extremists. we do that through strength and power. we do that through diplomacy, development. the governor's approach, as far as i can tell, is to put everything on the backs of the u.s. soldier, and say, go get them. we have seen that approach. he likes to bring up iraq. if iraq is really what you want to run on as the signature kind of way to transact business in the middle east, the governor is free to do that. the fact is, i do not think the american people want to replicate that experience again.
>> look, i guess you can keep on running against george bush forever, but that is not what governor romney is talking about. >> same ideas. >> no, they are not the same ideas. now can rabat you. look at governor -- what has governor romney said about his defense budget? what does he want to increase? ships. 15 ships, three submarines each year. very different from going into iraq or iran. we are convinced that the only way to stop the iranians is not to go and invade a country that large, but to be credible about what you're going to do about your sanctions, about your relationship with the israelis. when the iranians see us quarrelling with the israelis, they conclude we are not going to do anything. when the iranians see us giving people exemptions, i do not care how you want to word it -- an exemption is an exemption is
an exemption. if it quacks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, it is a duck. when they see those exemptions, they conclude weakness. they conclude lack of credibility. that is what we are talking about. we are not a bunch of warmongers. nobody has said to go and invade anybody. quite the contrary. peace through strength, which, as you know -- the governor repeats quite frankly -- was ronald reagan's theme. ronald reagan did not go to war with the soviets. he was actually the one that convinced the soviets that it was pointless to go to war with us, or to try to outbuild us. the real issue here is, how credible is the united states going to be? you want to pivot to asia. you want to cut the defense budget. you tell me how those two add up, because i cannot figure it out. >> let me follow up on the iran point for just a moment. i ask both of you, what should
the ultimate objective of u.s. policy in iran be? should it be a non-nuclear iran? should it be a regime change? can we live with this government in iran if it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon? >> the president has said that we do not accept iran with a nuclear weapon. there are a lot of other issues on the agenda with iran -- support for international terrorists, cracking down on its people, but it seems to me about the issues we are most focused on, among many, it is the nuclear issue and preventing iran from having a nuclear weapon. the governor has taken a multitude of positions on iran, including agreeing with the president that that was exactly the position that he should take, and then changing it and taking a bit of an evolving position on iran. i do want to come back to a couple things that he said about defense spending.
it is interesting, this story about jack lew coming up with the sequester. i do not think you were in the room for that, as far as i can tell, and it is an interesting story to tell, especially when you go back, and if somebody could just do a google search for the number of republican leaders that stood up for sequester, and said, what an important tool this is! nobody thinks it should come into effect. it was never supposed to come into effect. quite frankly, the vice presidential candidate, congressman ryan, supported the sequester and the budget control act. the cuts that he says are so devastating -- you would also say that fiscal strength is also important abroad, as well -- economic strength. i do not know how an additional $2 trillion in spending on defense that is unpaid for, with the additional assets you're talking about, that nobody in the pentagon has asked for, except for perhaps the
former advisers that now serve on the campaign -- it is an amazing thing to pick a number and then build a campaign around it, instead of designing a strategy around which you then build a defense philosophy. >> well, first, on the iran, the fact that mr. romney actually agrees that the priority is stopping iran from getting a nuclear weapon shows that ultimately both president obama and mr. romney recognize the threat that iran poses. the issue is, where do you go from there? fine, it is your priority. how do you deal with it? it is no good to say what president george w. bush may or may not have done for eight years ago, six years ago. that is not a prescription for the future. you keep looking back, you'll get a stiff neck. the real issue is, how do you get the iranians to stop
enrichment? you wait until they are months away, or six weeks away, and then say, i will rely on my intelligence. i repeat, our intelligence does not allow us to pick out who are the good guys and bad guys in syria. our intelligence did not tell us actually, they did tell us that there was going to be trouble in libya and egypt, but we ignored the intelligence. that is still coming out. there is a hearing today about it. pat kennedy is testifying about it. even if we get the intelligence, that does not mean we are going to pay attention to it. how far do you want to risk that? what mr. romney is saying, i do not want to take that kind of risk. i share the concern about iran getting a nuclear weapon, but i am going to go about preventing that in a very different way. now, since you want to talk about the budget, i am perfectly happy to do that.
jack lew is quoted in bob woodward's book. last time i checked, nobody has challenged that. nobody, probably because people in the white house talked to woodward, so how are they going to challenge what they said? the fact is that the president of the united states has sat on his hands when it has come to resolving the fiscal crisis. he keeps taking it over to the congress. whether you agree with simpson- bowles or you do not agree with simpson-bowles, this was a group of people that came up with a bipartisan solution. where was the president? where has the president been on all of this, other than saying, i am going to veto any attempt to prevent defense from being included in the sequester. in other words, holding defense hostage to the ideology that we cannot touch entitlements.
the sequester goes after -- let me put it this way, 2% of the sequester addresses entitlements. 2%, that works out very nicely if you buy into that ideology. it does not work out very nicely if you are concerned about defense. by the way, the $2 trillion -- we are trying just to get to the gates baseline budget. last time i checked, bob gates was not just a republican appointee. >> this seems like a good time to explore the defense issues a little bit more thoroughly, both the budget and the military reforms or changes associated with the pivot. to begin with the budget part, it does seem a little disingenuous to say that these are dollars on programs that the pentagon has not asked for.
as recently as 2011, they were in the obama budget. they were asked for programs during the obama administration, and they have been cut and taken away since the president took power. the second part of that question is, in the jockeying over the sequester, does the commander-in-chief play a fundamentally different role than any of the other actors in the melodrama? does he have a different constitutional set of responsibilities than the others? finally, for dov, you alluded to the fact that in dollar- terms, the defense increases are relatively modest in comparison to the overall spending reforms that are necessary to reach the governor's target of 20% of federal spending overall for
all federal programs. that probably means pretty substantial cuts in entitlements. if one is dependent upon the other, how does the governor intend, within the space of a single administration, to make up such a substantial and drastic change in government spending? >> i think this is a place where facts really do matter. just to remind people, the base budget for this year is about $525 billion, which is up 34% since 2001. the notion that somehow this budget has been cut -- even compared to the base budget of fy 2013 to 2007 -- under george w. bush, under his last budget -- it has gone up considerably. defense will continue to go up
under this administration. it is projected to go up into fy 2020. the question is controlling the rate of growth. that is for congressman ryan, speaker boehner -- a bipartisan group decided that there should be cuts to the growth. again, some of the facts -- we talk about naval assets. our navy is bigger than the next 13 navies combined. by fy 2020, we will have 300 ships. that is the projection. again, their plan is in search of a strategy. 60% of those assets will be deployed to the pacific by 2020. the air force is going to have roughly the same amount of planes in 2017, but significantly more platforms, significantly more capabilities. this notion of cutting ships we had in 1960 versus ships that we have in 2011 or projected to have in 2020 is slightly ridiculous, given the incredible capabilities that our
forces, our ships, and our weapons systems now have and the speed and lethality in which they operate. so, it is one thing to say, we should listen to the military when it comes to afghanistan, but we should not listen to the military when it comes to our budget. we should not listen to the military when it comes to new start. the fact is that general dempsey said, this is not a budget -- this is a budget that will support our military needs, testified very proudly on behalf of this budget. picking and choosing when you decide to listen to the military is an interesting tactic. >> i will try to answer your question. obviously, there will have to be adjustments to entitlement spending. there is no question about that. mr. romney also believes that he will be able to stimulate the economy, so the economy will grow, which means receipts will go up.
he has also said he will deal with tax loopholes. i am not a tax expert. it seems to me that there are an awful lot of those loopholes, and that will help. when we are already talking about 1.4% of the entire problem, it seems a doable way to fix it. you cannot fix it in one year. you can fix it in four years, for sure. at least i am trying to answer question. now, i cannot just sit back and listen to some of the stuff and be told in effect, facts matter, but you do not know any facts. first of all, one little fact. i really wonder whether mr. panetta, who talked about the smallest number of ships since 1915, sent out a letter to senator mccain, would really like to hear that his argument is ridiculous. it was not a republican who made that case. it was mr. panetta.
number two, the navy is going to be bigger, because i counted the ships that are being built. it takes a few years to get them out to sea. look at the pattern of naval spending and the number of ships over the next few years. the air force -- rich was very careful to talk about platforms, not aircraft. why? he is talking about drones. not just planes. you want to watch this very carefully. i am not saying that rich was not giving you facts. i am saying that it is a reflection of this administration that when it comes to words, there is an awful lot of fancy footwork. finally, defense going up? it is not going up in real terms. it is going up in nominal terms.
big difference. i come back to the point, why has this administration, given its own secretary of defense's concern -- remember, the pentagon follows the commander- in-chief's orders -- i am not surprised that general dempsey said what he said. that is what chiefs do. nevertheless, the secretary of defense is so agitated that he puts -- not in a press conference, not in an open mic statement -- in an open letter his concerns about the sequester. this administration is prepared to hold defense hostage in order to further its ideological goals. >> just on that point, every administration official has spoken out against the sequester. that is fully consistent. >> you proved my point. >> nobody supports the
sequester, i think, that is a point that you might have lost in the translation. >> i am not saying that mr. obama supports it, but he is prepared to sit on his hands. sometimes no action is action. >> you are aware that the senate republican leader said that his number one goal was to stop the president's agenda and keep him from being reelected, therefore, the notion that we are getting the kind of cooperation to stop the kind of sequester that you are concerned about is a bit of a fictional account. >> on the contrary -- look, i do not care what senator mcconnell may or may not have said. if the president wants to stop the sequester, he needs to be calling people into the white house every day. this should be his number one concern. instead, what you're getting is the labor department issuing confusing guidelines about the warren act, the administration saying they will cover contractors if they are screwed
by their employees, and senator mccain saying that is against the law. that is what we are getting, fancy footwork, not the all-out pressure to get a deal that only the president of the united states can accomplish. >> perhaps the house chairman of the budget committee who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency also could have been against the sequester, but in fact, he wasn't. he spoke out in support of it. >> we have other issues to get to as well. >> wait a minute, aren't you jim lehrer? >> i will not comment on that. [applause] we do have other issues to get to. i know that people want to ask about issues like asia, trade, russia, things like that. let's go to the audience now. we have a microphone around the room. please raise your hand if you would like to be recognized. name, affiliation, make sure you are asking a question, not a long statement. this lady.
>> my name is megan. my question is for mr. verma. you said in the beginning of your statement that al qaeda has been decimated. you also said -- i forget your exact words the people of libya are facing a much more free and optimistic situation than before the invasion of libya. i just want to raise a specter, which was already raised earlier, which was the recent assassination of our ambassador in benghazi. just a couple of things to set up my question. just after that, general hayden wrote an article pinning the responsibility for the security situation, which led to the assassination, on the president's invasion of libya, which did not get congressional approval. number two, on capitol hill today, lieutenant colonel wood is testifying -- who was part of the last security team in there -- he said he recommended increasing security because of the deteriorating situation in
benghazi. that did not happen. he and his team were pulled out. the ambassador himself expressed his own fear and worry that he was being targeted. i could go on and on. the point is, the administration was forewarned. it would be completely incompetent to say that they had no clue that something like this was about to happen. yet, when this did occur, susan rice and other spokesmen came out and said, this was spontaneous. we had no idea. my question is, why should the american people -- why would it be a better idea for the american people to vote to give this president another four years, rather than demanding a criminal investigation into the assassination in what is now being called benghazi-gate? >> you might have a point of view that you're trying to express in the form of a question. where should i begin? there is a much to talk about. chris stevens is really an
american hero, and i think anybody who knew him and knew what he was trying to do there would agree with that. he went to benghazi for a reason, because benghazi is really where these kinds of battles take place. these are battles between forces of extremism and forces of moderation. news flash, benghazi is a very dangerous place. he knew that and the state department knew that. that is why the secretary has appointed on accountability review board. that is why they're doing investigations to see if all the right decisions were taken. let me tell you also what happened after the ambassador was killed. tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of benghazi, and they said, with signs, chris stevens is our friend. they overran the militias. the president of libya ordered all militias to be shut down. this is a country going through
an incredibly difficult time. from the premise of your question, it sounds as if you would rather have supported gaddafi's still being there. the fact is, without american leadership, gaddafi would still be there. we were a principal part in leading that effort. we are a principal part in ensuring and supporting the moderate forces in libya. now, with regard to the investigation, you can take the threads that you want to take. you can try to make it into a political matter, as the governor tried to do hours after the tragedy. after they had already called a press release the night before, he decided to call one the next morning. that says something about the judgment and temperament about the future of commander-in- chief, when even political advisers pushed you out to the podium. you might have enough restraint to say no, this is not the right time, we actually do not know all the facts. it turns out, he actually knows one of the deceased.
he mentioned that on the campaign trail yesterday. had he known facts like that, maybe he would not have rushed out to the podium. the fact is, his position has been everywhere. you look at the five or six positions he has had on libya. i am not sure what it is people would have done differently. it is critically important that we support people like that. our diplomats are at risk every day. they are at risk in dangerous parts of the world. frankly, the house republican budget committee has struck state department funding many times over for embassy security. i hope in the course of the investigation that is tahe fact that is looked at. judgment calls made by diplomats, made by patriots about security situations -- when the military is not there with them, these are difficult situations. i would not prejudge the facts until the full investigation -- frankly, everything that has been said thus far has been based on the information
available at the time, and it is a very difficult situation to get facts from a place like benghazi on the night of the very tragic attack. i have no doubt that the facts will continue to evolve, and as we get more clarity, there will be more definitive statement. it sounds like you and the governor and frankly other people would rather make a political case out of this. >> i think that is unfair to the question. first of all, the first statements were not made by the governor. the first statement was made by an administration official who blamed it on a video. the american embassy in egypt, which was what the governor was criticizing, had essentially said, look, this video was terrible, but we have to be respectful of all religions. although quite frankly, i have not heard the administration come out and say that those who abuse buddhist temples, burn
sikh temples, abuse jewish history, persecute christians should also be held equally accountable. i have not heard that. this was really a teachable moment. this was a time when mr. obama could have said, look, what this video is about is wrong, but guess what? there are things that are being done in the muslim world that are also wrong, and islamic speakers do not speak out. their leaders do not speak up, their mullahs do not speak out, not loudly enough, not enough of them. there are many courageous ones who do, but certainly not enough of them. this was not about the video at all. that is the whole point. it was about al qaeda. that has come out. that is coming out in the testimony this morning, and it has come out before. the administration did not want to admit that it was al qaeda. that would mean we have not destroyed al qaeda. i do not care if it is al qaeda
central or al qaeda franchises. that is like saying, you know, mcdonald's does not really sell hamburgers in san diego, so they must not sell hamburgers at all. i do not count the franchisees all over the world. what difference does it make if it is an al qaeda franchise or al qaeda central or a terrorist group that is by some other name? this dancing around issues is so frustrating, not for me, not for governor romney, but for the world, for our friends, for those who depend on the u.s. >> alright. other questions. yes sir, right here. >> my name is david. for 30 years -- i retired recently. my question goes to this issue of the navy.
it does appear to most that in the information age, our carriers are far more capable than they were in the industrial age, but at a different level, numbers matter. it seems to me that if you have 10-11 carrier battle groups, you are only going to deploy three or four at any given time. i'm not quite sure what the argument is when you say you need to increase the navy size, and the other side says, we have adequate forces. it does not seem to jive if you want to carry all the pacific as your new pivot strategy, and you are only going to have two or three carriers deployed at any given moment. can somebody comment on this? >> as you know very well, and anybody who knows naval forces very well, if you want to have a carrier in the middle east, it is going to take you five or six to support it. just run up the numbers. if you want to have carriers in the pacific -- one carrier is
stationed in japan -- so the calculation is about five carriers to support it. any other carrier in the western pacific would take four or five. how will you have two carriers in the western pacific and two more in the indian ocean, and by the way, what about the eastern mediterranean? it does not add up. it just does not add up. that is just carriers. what about escorts? what about submarines? you just play the numbers. yes, they are marketable. the carriers and ships generally don't fly. aircraft fly. if you want to have a naval presence, which is what the state department has historically called upon whenever there has been a crisis, the ones who say, send the carriers, are always our diplomats, because they know the diplomatic value of the naval forces. if that is what you want, if that is what you need, this
administration's program is not going to cut it. >> i would just say -- repeat something i said earlier, which is, the navy is going to grow under this administration. our navy is already bigger than the next 13 navies combined. we are attracted have 300 ships by fy 2020. you have to balance that in terms of what the threats are we are actively trying to deter and defeat. you have to have a balanced approach to your defense posture. if you look at the strategy that secretary panetta put out in 2012, he listed the areas which were going to be priorities for the administration -- counter- terrorism, regular warfare, cyber security, keeping lanes open, countering wmds. there are a lot of threats, and we are trying to balance that within the fiscal reality.
the fact is that the capabilities and technologies on our ships are better than they have ever been before, and they are the best in the world. they will remain that way. >> yes sir, right here. >> afternoon. i am patrick wilson. i am an iraq veteran. i watched with interest the drawdown in iraq from very close -- the transition in new dawn and the end of that period. most recently, i have watched the boxes turn red in afghanistan. forgive me, i am a veteran in a battalion, i am a lieutenant -- we make slides, and commanders want to know, how do we make the boxes green, lieutenant? what i see in afghanistan, in the most recent reports, everything the army has said about the "progress" of our surge in afghanistan -- all of the boxes are red. my question is, if you are looking back to the iraq conflict, if that surge had gone as badly as it now appears
this surge has gone in afghanistan, where would the political fallout be? because i am frustrated, not about the political debate, but how little discussion there is anywhere in the media about the fact that afghanistan, apparently, the surge there -- soldiers were sacrificed, the blood and treasure we put there, has all but been for naught. i am wondering in the political context what that means for both candidates, the white house, and obviously what governor romney hopes to do about it. >> first, let me thank you for your service. i would agree with you, there is not enough discussion about these issues, about afghanistan, frankly, and the troops that we have there. there was not enough discussion about what was happening in iraq, as well. look, it is a very difficult situation in afghanistan. it has been a while before we got there. it will continue to be a difficult situation. the fact is, what is the strategy to try to get the afghan government in place, and the afghan military so that it
can actually defend itself so that we can weaken the taliban, the nexus to extremism? that is exactly what the strategy is built around. that is trying to use the combination of force and building of institutions in afghanistan and trying to support civil society and other elements to try to give them the chance -- the afghans are very anxious to try and take the lead from the united states, which is why these transition plans are so important, which apparently there is very little difference. it is why the strategic partnership that the president entered into is so critical. we do have an enduring interest in having an enduring presence in afghanistan. the president has made that very clear. i do not think anybody -- you know better than anybody how difficult this is going to be, how difficult it has been. the question is, do we have the right strategy and political, military tools that are required to see this thing
through with our isaf partners? you know, we are going to be at this, beyond the transition point of 2014 for different functions, supporting the afghan military and security forces the best we can. >> first of all, i agree, thank you for your service. it is really rough to be out there. i know too many people who have come back not in one piece. some who have come back in body bags. i do thank you. the difficulty is with those of us who support the governor and the governor himself have made clear -- by coming up with a fixed deadline, we have sent the wrong signals to our adversaries. remember, you know, we are constantly being told, president bush said we would pull out of iraq, as well. there was going to be a status
of forces agreement, and then the white house did not push very hard. again, if that was very important, the president should have been on the phone to maliki every single day. he was not. so, you got the situation where, we were out. yes, we have a civilian presence on the ground. but that is not doing the job. i do not envy john allen one bit. he has a very tough job as commander out there. he is a brilliant guy, and he will do it as well as anybody i know. again, how do you deal with the fact that already some of our allies have been talking about and have started pulling troops out? because of this deadline. how do you deal with the taliban's behavior in regard to this deadline? the big difference, i reiterate, between mr. obama and mr. romney is that mr. romney says he will consult the folks in uniform.
that opens the door to the possibility that we are not when to pull out in 2014 if the situation does not work it. if the situation warrants it, of course, we will pull out. why should we stay one extra day, why should we risk our kids' lives one more minute, if we can get out? if our commanders, if the general allens of this world turn around and say, not yet, governor romney is not locked into pulling out. that is a huge difference. if those boxes continue to be red, as you said, then maybe our generals are going to say, we need a little more time. >> all right, let's see, this lady right here. >> i am a political researcher. my question is for both speakers, i will reference the
opening remark by mr. zakheim saying that you both agree on the objective, but the difference is how are we going to go about it. now i totally think that describe the situation very well, because going back -- thinking about the last administration, i think there are real agreements from both sides, republican and democrat, on the bailout policy, cutting the budget, despite the fact that the majority of american citizens are going under, also, a continuation of war policy, which you're debating here, but for different reasons, different ways, this war has continued under both democratic and republican presidents. also, i will reference the cover-up of 9/11 -- george
bush's presidency covered up the 9/11 document, specifically a 28 page document on a saudi arabia. >> can you get your question police? >> yes sir, the cover-up of 9/11 and just happened. my question is, it seems to me that both parties have agreed upon objectives, but my question is, what is really the objective here, because i do not think it is to bring down our nation, and i really think if we agreed to bring back our nation, there are some policies that are just no-brainers. glass-steagal, regulation of industry, but what is the objective. i want the two speakers to address that. >> let's take one more question. >> it was very interesting during the 2008 campaign how the president said, then a candidate obama said, we need to end the war in iraq so it can win the war in afghanistan. that is the one that got away.
as soon as he came into office, he went from the narrative of winning the war in afghanistan to ending the war in afghanistan. can you tell me where this policy shift went from winning to ending, because when you start talking about your objective being ending the war, rather than winning a war, it appears to me that it sends a message not only to our adversaries but to our friends that we are not serious about the mission? if you could address that, it could be very helpful. >> yes sir, and thank you for your many years of service, as well. look, the fact is, the afghan campaign has gone on for a 11- 12 years, and it was very important in the president's mind to set an inflection point, a transition point to focus the afghanis on taking responsibility, or else it would be a perpetual state of affairs, where we could have 100,000 troops there and provide security indefinitely.
that is not what the american people want or expect, and frankly, it is not in our long- term national security interests to have a bad number of troops bogged down there, when we can train and afghan forces to do the job. they are a country, they are a sovereign, they need to do their job. with that said, i think it is very important -- and i am sure you know this -- the strategic partnership agreement does not suggest an absence of the united states. in fact, it suggests just the opposite. it suggests an enduring partnership, a mentoring relationship with security responsibilities. we clearly have interests in the region, in keeping the afghans from becoming a safe haven for terror again. that is what the policy is about. you know, i am really focused on the president's words when he talks about a transition at the end of 2014 to focus the afghans -- afghan leadership, which they are very anxious to take over security
responsibilities. we need to make sure they are ready. >> i would just say, a the president's speech in 2009 had said, we want to train the forces, we want to have a strategic partnership agreement, and left it at that, we would be in a totally different situation. by saying as well, we are getting out by a date certain, he created the mess we are in, in my view. let me deal with this lady's question. you're absolutely right. which and i agree the national security objectives of our country. we have different ways of going about it. we both agree we have to fight terrorism. we both agree that we have interests and allies abroad. we both agree that our forces should be deployed. we both agree that we need to provide the best for our troops. by the way, we both agree that there was no 9/11 conspiracy. i do not know where you came up with that paper. let me tell you, send it to
"the new york times." i am sure they will print it up, and then we will see what people say about it. the biggest problem we have are those folks, like you, who believes this nonsense. it is not him, it is not me, it is not his president, it is not my governor, no responsible person was involved in any 9/11 conspiracy. it is an insult to the leaders of our country to say that. i am sorry to bang on you. i have to tell you, it is an insult to the dead as well. [applause] >> alright, this lady right here. >> hi, i am the executive director of the nonprofit dedicated to bridging the security-millet -- civilian- military divide. i am also an 11 year army wife. my question really is for
anybody on the panel, we as a country have basically outsourced two wars over 10 years to less than 1 percent of the population i don't think this is a myopic question, although i do have skin in the game. you have done a really good job at doing what you get -- we have done a really good job at doing what you guys have asked us to do. whatever party has asked us to do it. my question is in regards to national service in general. is this not something that any candidate will ever take on? you don't necessarily have to wear a uniform desert, but i will tell you, we are pretty tired after doing this for 10 years. with so few of us. we're talking about the different budgets, revenues going up are going down, but in the end, it seems like if more americans had scan in the game, not to get into the draft question -- i really wish that both candidates would address this issue of national service so that we can all feel like we are working. it does not feel like that to us.
>> i will take that first. i cannot speak for the governor on this. i will speak personally. i have served my country for about 15 years. never came out ahead financially when i was doing it. i have a son that serves the country right now. not in uniform, but on the help. he is a lawyer. he can make at least five times as much. i've got another son who served his town, and it was really hard trying to keep a family together while he was serving only the city council. i totally agree with you that we all need to play a part in serving our country. it starts, i think, with people like yourself speaking out more. i think we need to -- again, i am speaking personally here -- i think we need to get more and more people to be conscious of the fact that, kennedy was right. ask not what the country can do
for you, ask what you can do for your country. sometimes democrats are right. [laughter] >> i think we should end it there. >> i said sometimes. [applause] so i would say that your point is a very important want. i certainly personally hope that anybody who is watching this pays attention to your concerns, because being a military wife is no less easy than serving in the military. i have been working with the military for more than 35 years. i have friends who lost their husbands, had to bring up kids on their own, i have other friends in the marine corps friends that spent months on end paying the bells, dealing with the kids, doing the car pool, taking care of the house, working the job, morning
tonight,. there is no end. god forbid somebody comes home without an arm or leg or without an eye or whatever. you have my 100% support. >> let me thank you again for your family's service, and i echo everything that he said. you know, the president has taken every opportunity he can to support the military, to meet with military veterans, those that return, those that are there. i do think it raises a larger question, however, and it is about what we ask our military to do. i do not want to put words in your mouth, but i think that was at the heart of your question. that is, you have done a lot of the last decade, and now people are asking you to do more. don't they know what it is like to pick up and leave kits for a
year and leave spouses or multiple rotation's? i think that is a real difference between the two approaches to foreign policy and defense. let me try to explain it this way. the president's approach is about using all elements of our power, diplomatic power, using our development tools, using our military, intelligence assets, using homeland defense, using advanced technologies, so that we do not think that every solution, every problem as a military solution attached to it. i do think -- it is a difference in the speeches. it is a difference in the budget priorities. it is a different in the record the two candidates talk about. it is a difference frankly in the budget that congressman ryan put together. i know budgets take months to put together. the take a lot of thought and deliberation. the thought and deliberation
that went into his national security blueprint for america said the military is going to solve all of our national security problems. that was the approach in the previous administration. i'm not looking back. what i am doing is seizing upon ideas that have been brought forward by your team. i think there is a real difference. i think that is exactly what happened in the prior eight years. we put the burdens of the country's security on the backs of men and women in uniform without looking at other tools of american power, as well. i think the president's approach is more balanced. >> i think, frankly, it will you follow the president's approach, and you cut defense, you'll wind up going to war more often. you do not go to war when people think you're strong. you go to war when people think you are weak. you look at president reagan's build up, and you look at the buildup that continued under
president clinton, yes, we were involved in what you might call skirmishes, but we were not involved in long-term wars. so, i would argue, not that mr. romney is against using every tool for power, but on the contrary, he is. that is why he is concerned about loopholes in sanctions for example. precisely because he says, let's use the tools that we have. avoid having to use the military more than we need to, and frankly, avoid having to use it at all, it will be can get away with that. you are not going to convince your enemies if you are weak. why did north korea attack south korea in 1950? because we announced that south korea was outside our security perimeter, and by the way, we cut our forces by a tremendous percentage, and the north koreans concluded we were not interested. why did the argentines invade the falkland islands in the 1980's? because the burdens cut back on with their forces.
cutting back on your strength invites the exact thing you want to avoid. >> all right, yes, this lady right back here. >> hi, i was wondering if each of you could comment on it the threat that you see the u.s. facing from by a terrorism. what, if anything, should we be doing to counter that threat? >> so, i will talk from personal experience. i was on lead the weapons of mass destruction commission to provide terrorism. wmd terror commission. the shocking conclusion that the commission found was that the threat from bio terrorism was greater in terms of a short- term threat over nuclear weapons. so, the recommendations that came out of that commission, which the president has adopted many of them, about securing bile facilities around the
world, working with scientists from different countries that produce by a toxins, there is a very comprehensive diplomatic effort on the securing biological weapons and precursors. it is a big issue. it is a serious issue. i think the administration has taken it seriously, but make no mistake, it is a very serious issue. >> i would simply say that one of the conclusions is that we have not done enough. i do not think the program reflects that we have done enough. we need to do more. there is no question about it. i think there is a consensus on that. >> all right, we have time for one last question. let's go to this gentleman right here in the front. >> first of all, i don't you for inviting this form. it was an amazing forum, a great group of people you put together today. my name is scott, i am a former nsa linguist and also a u.s. air force linguist.
i served my country for quite a long time. i will tell you that the country needs a big reality check. very disingenuous to say that reagan was a peaceful president. he fought two wars that i covered very closely against iran, and another war i covered a very closely -- the best way to fight your enemy is to use your enemy, and that is what we did with saddam, that is what we did with the folks in afghanistan and pakistan against the russians. we fought the russians for 10 years as well. so, that is very disingenuous. in fact, my question is, how can we continue to survive as a country? in my lifetime -- i am 50 years old this year -- we have murdered over 25 million people in this world, and loss -- lost less than 100,000 in battle. 58,000 of those were in vietnam. the fact is, we are far more warring nation than any other nation on the the history of this planet. we have killed more people. we have done some terrible things around the world. i really feel it is disingenuous to sit in front of a crowd and mislead them about the kind of nation we have
become. we have more weapons of mass destruction. we provided mustard gas to saddam hussein. the reason we did not find weapons of mass destruction there is because they had a stamp made in usa on them. we destroy them. that is a fact. >> you might want rapine any other comments you would like to make as a wrap up as we will go to each of you. maybe we can start with dov. >> well, everybody is entitled to their opinion. you may have been in the middle of our shipping of mustard gas to saddam hussein, you may have been in the middle of our killing 25 million people, but that is not the country i know. it is as simple as that. it is not the country i have served. i would say this, it is true, we supplied the afghan rebels. no doubt about it. but they were doing the fighting.
if we helped saddam hussein against the iranians, he was doing the fighting. so i stand by what i said. we sent troops into grenada. it was not exactly a ten-year old battle. we actually pull ourselves out of lebanon. i stand by what i said about mr. reagan. i do not believe that we are the evil empire. maybe you do. i really do believe that our country, whoever is president, has its heart in the right place. i will give you the proof of the pudding. whether mr. obama is president, mr. romney is president, whoever is president, i do not see people migrating out of this country. they all want to come here. if we were so terrible, they would be going to russia, china, and god knows where else. since the 18th century, your ancestors, my ancestors, his ancestors, everybody's ancestors have all been coming
here. we are a good country, not a bad one. [applause] >> let me thank you again for giving us the opportunity. i just think -- look, i am very proud to be here on the -- on behalf of the president, because i think the record over the past four years on foreign policy and security is a good one. there are real differences. i think you heard many of them today. the question is, what kind of vision to we want for the future? who is best suited to keep america secure? the president said that is his number one security, to keep the american people safe and secure. i do think the more comprehensive approach that the president has laid forward, using all of the tools of american power, working with our allies, rebuilding international institutions, rebuilding our alliances, and ultimately acting when it is in the u.s. interest to act, protecting the country, the president has a strong record on
that front. i will not rehash what we just covered over the last 90 minutes, but i do think there are real differences. i think the president has a very strong record. unfortunately, i think the governor would take us back to a place that we had left from. >> thank you, richard, and dov, for very ably representing your candidates here. [applause] thank you all for coming. thank you to tom and peter. please join me in thanking our representatives for being here today. [applause] >> this is not about a governor
bush. this is not about me. it is about you. i want to come back to something i said before. if you want somebody who believes that we were better off eight years ago than we are now, and we ought to go back to the kind of policies which had back then, emphasizing tax cuts for the wealthy, here is your man. if you want somebody who will fight for you, and will fight for middle-class tax cuts, then i am your man. i want to be. now, i doubt anybody here mix more than $330,000 each year. if you do, you are in the top one%. >> it would be a violation of the rules. >> i will not ask. if everybody here in this audience was dead on in the middle of the middle class, then the tax cut for every single one of you all added up would be less than the tax cut his plan
would give it to just one member of that top wealthiest one%. you judge for yourself whether that is fair. >> we are moving on. >> 50 million americans do not get tax relief under your plan. second, we have had an up fighting. it is time to get nice. you talk about eight years. you have not gotten anything done on the medicare, social security, the patient's bill of rights. >> presidential town hall debates began in 1992 with then- president george bush. in every election since, presidential hopefuls have taken questions from undecided voters in the town hall style. tuesday night, watch president obama and mitt romney in their debate. c-span coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern. >> see the second presidential debate tomorrow. live on c-span, c-span radio,